Tag Archives: roasted

Flavor #16: Roasted Strawberry and Caramelized Banana Ice Cream

25 Oct

Growing up in California where fresh produce is ample. I had always taken for granted the fruits available in the farmers market. Especially strawberries. There is something intoxicating about an entire case of strawberries, with the delicate scent alluring all that pass by the stand. My mom brought my sister and me to the farmers market weekly in Oakland chinatown. As she shopped for the freshest fish and vegetables, my sister and I would greedily find the ladies handing out samples. Especially those of strawberries.

During high school, the first smoothie bar opened up downtown. (Unlike what others believe, smoothie bars didn’t become popular until I was nearly 16). After working on a science project together, my classmate’s mom drove us downtown to the new smoothie bar. Sheltered from mainstream trends, I was surprised by the incredible smoothie now served to the masses. A mixture of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, lemon and bananas. With a drop of yogurt (or some dairy product).

So, on a warm fall day (the summer in San Francisco), Chris asked, “Strawberry banana?”

It was an easy inspiration. (Granted, it had not been the first time he asked for the flavor or the smoothie equivalent.) A combination of sweet and tart.

No such recipe existed quite yet.

In making the ice cream, I adhered to the principles I learned in Ohio. Do it the right way In the recipes that I scoured for on the Internet, they were simple. Just chop up the strawberries and toss in! to Mash up the bananas and mix during churning. There was something missing.

Flavors intensify with a bit of heat…to evaporate the water. With too much water in any mix-in, the mix-in (or fruit for that matter) can taste like a bite of ice inside ice cream. So in an effort to minimize that, I roasted the strawberries and caramelized the bananas.

Pureeing strawberries and bananas

In making the ice cream, I initially started with an egg-based custard but in the process, I turned up the heat too much and the eggs…scrambled. So instead, I went with a cornstarch base, which was easier but also allowed for the fruit flavors to stand on its own than to be masked by eggs.

So more by accident, I let the roasted strawberries and caramelized bananas sit for a few hours. I am almost quite certain that the flavors were more intense as a result.

On taste, it was truly Proustian, yanking me back to the moment that I had a strawberry banana smoothie growing up.

Churning strawberry banana ice cream

Recipe

For the roasted strawberries

1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced into quarters
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice or juice of a half lemon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a glass or ceramic pan (something nonreactive), mix well the strawberries and sugar together. Roast for 8 minutes until soft. Cool. Puree with the lemon juice. Set aside.


For the caramelized bananas

2 ripe bananas, peeled
1 tablespoon packed light or dark brown sugar

In a medium pan, mix the bananas and brown sugar together with a fork until fully mashed. Cook under medium heat for about 4-8 minutes until brown. Cool. Puree. Set aside.

For the ice cream base

4 1/2 cups of whole milk, half & half, heavy cream or combination
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup sugar
Pinch of salt

In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and 2 1/2 tablespoons of the cream, half & half or milk until there are no lumps to create a cornstarch slurry.

In a medium pot over medium heat, mix the remaining cream, half & half, or milk with sugar and salt. When the mixture begins to steam, add the cornstarch slurry. Continue to cook until the mixture thickens or begins to simmer.

Chill at least three hours or overnight in a refrigerator.

To make ice cream

Mix in the strawberry puree and banana puree into the ice cream base. Churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Serve plain or with fruit toppings (e.g. banana slices and/or strawberry slices).

Flavor #13: Roasted Peach Sorbet

14 Sep

After a two week journey through Vancouver and Seattle, I learned one important lesson in ice cream making:

Shop well.

The choice of ingredients always shine through the recipes. Particularly in ice cream where the taste is based on the quality of the ingredients.

So when the rosy peaches, juicy lemons, and cinnamon come directly from the source—unfiltered, organic, fresh—there is a profound change of taste. Yet like many home cooks, I have often taken the most cost-effective and time-efficient methods of using extracts and pre-mixed ingredients ($4 for artificial vanilla extract? Sure!).

A few years in 2008, I spontaneously showed up to an early screening of Food Inc, which changed the way I shopped for groceries. It takes only a little more effort to use whole ingredients (e.g., substituting cinnamon sticks for ground cinnamon or fresh lemons for bottles of lemon juice. For months afterward, I shopped only at Whole Foods and at farmers markets. The latter was the most intriguing based on meeting the farmers, the colors at every food stalls, and the missing middlemen.

In Seattle, after talking to Adria from Parfait (who talked about her culinary awakening in France where local produce was abundant and cooking with fresh ingredients is a way of life), I went to the Alemany Farmers Market with only a singular purpose: To obtain the fresh ingredients for my next batch of ice cream.

That’s how I came upon the peach. (A big influence was observing Tracy of Social make a peach sorbet at her kitchen on my last day in Seattle.)

The peach is the quintessential fruit of the summer. The fruit that Alice Waters lovingly serves whole, unpeeled, unpitted rolling about on a plate at Chez Panisse. The fuzz that repels people yet draws them closer and closer to the juice.

And in my life, it is the secret ingredient that my team guessed a few years ago in August (and make several dishes based on the peach) based on these hints:

  • Currently in-season in California
  • Typically have between 35 and 40 calories
  • Associated with the “unluckiest” colony

At the farmers market, the peaches called out to me. And also the women who called out (near closing time), “One dollar per pound! EVERYTHING IS NOW ONE DOLLAR PER POUND!” Fighting past the competitive old Chinese ladies, I grabbed an empty bag and filled it up with all the available stone fruit. White peaches first. Then some plums—purple and green. Then topping off with yellow peaches.

After accidentally gorging on all the plums (you cannot stop yours truly from eating fruit) and some accidental peaches, all that remained were 6 white peaches and 5 yellow peaches. Curious about how the sorbet will differ for each peach, I used the same method for each. Interestingly, the skin came off easily after roasting the yellow peaches. In contrast, the skin for white peaches came off in unsightly shreds—so I eventually just pureed it skins and all.

Results between the two? Both sorbets spoke well to their source ingredients. The yellow peach sorbet had that sour taste that I loved—it was balanced well with the hint of lemon juice. The white peach sorbet was sweeter and spoke of berries—it was very similar to the raspberry lemon sorbet.

Delicious.

I can gorge on this sorbet all day, but I am trying to reserve some for my curious ice cream tasters.

Recipe

Adapted from Seattle PI:

Ingredients

5 or 6 peaches (6 is ideal for this recipe to have intense peach flavor, but 5 works as well because I obviously ate 1 too many)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
2/3 cup sugar (the original recipe calls for Baker’s sugar for easy dissolving, so I pulsed the granulated sugar a few times prior to mixing with other ingredients)
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch of salt

Method

Halve the peaches and remove the pit. Sprinkle brown sugar over the peaches. Roast for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove from the oven and let rest for a few minutes.

Peel the skins from the peaches. Be careful as the free-flowing juice and peach flesh can be very hot! Roasting brings out the flavor…and technically should make the skin easy to peel. If the skin is not easy to peel, leave it on. Depending on your preference on texture, the skin can be strained out later.

In a blender or food processor, puree with the juice of 1 lemon (or 1 tablespoon of juice) and sugar. Add more or less lemon juice to taste.

It is possible to churn immediately (mixture will be room temperature if the ingredients are at room temperature), but for better results, chill for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Churn in an ice cream maker based on the manufacturer’s instructions. Add a pinch of cayenne and salt at the beginning of churning to intensify the flavors.

The result will be easy to scoop and does not freeze into ice blocks. (Yay!)

Yellow peach sorbet

White peach sorbet